CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Anthrax, Homeland Security
Aired October 8, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight as U.S. forces pound terrorist targets in Afghanistan for a second day, an anthrax scare in Florida has people lining up for tests and preventative treatments.
Joining us from Tallahassee, Florida secretary of health Dr. John Agwunobi. From Washington, with startling new information, on how two people may have come in contact with the legal germ, "Newsweek's" ace, journalist Michael Isikoff. Also in D.C., Homeland security expert, Colonel Randy Larson, United States Air Force retired, and with him counterterrorism expert Larry Johnson, former CIA officer.
Also in Washington, Senator Richard Shelby, vice chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, and Congresswoman Jane Harman ranking member of the new subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security.
Plus, Pulitzer prizewinning journalist and best-selling author Bob Woodward "The Washington Post," and Walter Cronkite former anchor of the "CBS Evening News," long know as America's most trusted man. They are all next, on LARRY KING LIVE!
Good Evening. The headlines of tonight: The Pentagon says the first wave of strikes hit more than 30 targets including early warning radars, Taliban ground forces, and military command sites. The attorney general warned Americans be alert but not panicky as the United States tightens security. And the FBI investigates the case of a Florida man found to have been exposed to anthrax.
We begin with Dr. John Agwunobi, the secretary of health to state of Florida. He joins us from Tallahassee. We know that one is dead. Can you explain what you mean, Doctor, by "exposed to."
DR. JOHN AGWUNOBI, FLORIDA HEALTH SECRETARY: Yes, perhaps I can. We have an individual, he is actually 73 years of age, who was found not to have classical symptoms of anthrax, but was found to have signs of having anthrax spores in his nostrils, his nasal cavities.
KING: Meaning that he could develop it worst?
AGWUNOBI: Theoretically, given time he could have actually developed full blown anthrax.
KING: When you see something like this, as a health official, what's the first thing you suspect? Someone is dead, another person has -- early spores. What is first thing a health official thinks?
AGWUNOBI: As a health official. It is clearly worrying, worrisome. Especially when we have more than one individual. However, we have no real answer as to how this has come about. We are investigating, fortunately with a very good, strong team. We have individuals from the CDC, from the state and from our local teams working together, and we are investigating really vigorously. But as of now, we still don't have an answer.
KING: Does it have to be, Doctor, delivered by someone?
AGWUNOBI: We don't have an answer to that question either. We are pursuing all leads, and there are many different possibilities for how this could come about. We are looking at them all.
KING: The building in which both men worked is the American Media Building and you have closed that building, right?
AGWUNOBI: That is correct, sir. We felt that given the fact that we had two samples that were positive: one in the original case, who went on to die, and the other in this most recent 73-year-old male, in addition to that, we found a sample of anthrax on the keyboard of the index case.
Given that cluster of information, we decided that it was prudent to evaluate all of the employees in that building to see if anyone else had been exposed and to offer protection using prophylactic antibiotics.
KING: How long does the evaluation take?
AGWUNOBI: The evaluation, sir, of, I'm sorry.
KING: Of the employees.
AGWUNOBI: Ah, yes. Well we are hoping within a day or two we should have gotten to all of the employees and provided them with education, access to any informational questions they might need to have answered and to have give them antibiotics.
KING: And do you work closely with the FBI on something like this?
AGWUNOBI: We do. Typically we do, and in actual fact this building is also current -- the building that we were speaking of is actually being evaluated in some detail, as you can imagine, by the FBI, even as we speak.
KING: Is antibiotic the known treatment?
AGWUNOBI: Yes, sir. Yes, it is. Antibiotics are known to be quite effective if used very early on in the course of disease. However they are less effective once the symptoms have occurred.
KING: Have you seen any other case of this in your career? AGWUNOBI: I haven't, personally. In fact, very few physicians in the United States have. There are not that many cases. It is very rare. It is not contagious. And it is just -- just not seen that often.
KING: Thank you, Doctor. Dr. John Agwunobi, the Florida state secretary of health. Joining us now in Washington is Michael Isikoff, the famed investigative correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. There is a very compelling article posted today on "Newsweek's" Web site that deals with how all of this may have started. Give us the insight here, Michael.
What do you report? What happened?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": A couple things: No. 1 that the individual who is now hospitalized, and being examined, who did have the anthrax spore, is a 73-year-old mail clerk in the building. He is a Cuban-American, described as a sweet little man, who delivers mail and packages to reporters and editors in the building and would have delivered any letters or packages received by Bob Stevens, the photo editor of the "Sun" tabloid who died last Friday.
So that -- and whose anthrax spores found on his keyboard. So that sort of connects the two individuals being looked at here. The question the FBI, which is taking this very seriously, is examining is, how would -- how would the transmission have worked?
They are looking at any letters and packages that would have arrived at the building in the last few weeks. They are also looking at people who would have had access to the building or known how to deliver something to the building, including former company employees and interns.
KING: That is a building where the "Inquirer," the "Sun," the "Star" are printed, right?
ISIKOFF: Right, it essentially houses just about every supermarket tabloid in the country from the high end "National Inquirer," and "Star" to the low end, "News of the World"
KING: Now what's the story about this that letter came prior to September 11, kind of a weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez that contained a powdery substance?
ISIKOFF: Right, well a couple things. No. 1 is, given the nature of these publications, they get letters to and about celebrities like Jennifer Lopez all the time. Some company employees do remember hearing about a letter that had some sort of foamy substance attached to it, and are suggesting that there might be a connection there.
The FBI is also very interested, as I said before, in people who had access to the building, and including -- there is a couple of interns they are aggressively hunting down, including one who seemed to send a weird e-mail just upon his departure at the end of the summer. The individual is of Middle Eastern extraction, so that obviously has popped out. But nobody has got any hard answers here yet.
The one thing you know is, you have the mail room clerk, and the guy who gets deliveries from mail room clerk.
KING: What was weird about the message from the departing intern?
ISIKOFF: Well, one, and this is variously remembered by different employees. One of the problems here is that the email, the computer system has been shut down with the entire building being sealed. So nobody had actually a hard copy or access to the e-mail, but we did talk to several employees and editors of the newspaper, who remembered it slightly differently.
But all said that there was some reference to that -- one described it as a sense of foreboding about it, that the former intern was sort of seemed to be warning about a surprise, or saying that he was going to have a surprise for company employees there. But, again, nobody has got a hard copy. We can't quote from it exactly. And, you know, needless to say, nobody has been charged in this.
KING: Michael, you are a veteran of investigative journalism. Where does this, what does this feel like to you? Where is the texture going?
ISIKOFF: Well, you know, I think all of us, you know, in media, have been trying to go and bend over backwards not to be too alarmist here. And, you know, until today, I think if you read most of the coverage, everybody has plenty of caveats about, let's not get hysterical about it.
But if you talk to anybody today who sees the coincidence of the two situations in the same building and the same company at the same time, a disease that is exceedingly rare in the country, and they say this one does feel serious, this does feel real.
Now, again, that doesn't necessarily mean that this is a highly sophisticated attack. In fact, one question is why more people have not come down with symptoms by now. Especially if it was something timed to September 11. You would have expected to see -- if this agent was delivered around the time of the September 11 attacks, you would have expected to see a lot more company employees coming down with symptoms of the disease. So there is still a lot we don't know yet.
KING: Thank you, Michael. Michael Isikoff, investigative correspondent, "Newsweek" magazine, posted on the Web site today.
Colonel Randy Larson, United States Air Force (Ret), expert with things like this will be with us. As we go to break, the Attorney General John Ashcroft answers questions on the topic we have been talking about. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We regard this as an investigation which could become a clear criminal investigation. And we are pursuing this with -- with all the dispatch and care that is appropriate relying on the expertise of the Centers for Disease Control, and health authorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What you are seeing on your screen is the latest pictures we have of the latest strike in Afghanistan, occurring a little while ago, this evening.
Joining us now in Washington is Colonel Randy Larson, United States Air Force (Ret.), he is the director of the Answer Institute for Homeland Security, a nonprofit public research institute. Formerly served as the chairman of the department of military strategy and operations at the National War College. He has briefed Vice President Cheney and key members of Congress, and the military. Colonel Larson, how concerned are you about this anthrax story?
COLONEL RANDALL LARSEN, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE (RET.): Well, this is clearly a troubling story. I have been looking at biological warfare for seven years and this is the day I have not been looking forward to. But we have to keep this in perspective. First of all, this seems to be a very low tech sort of an attack, if it is attack. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but I just don't think there is any chance this could be naturally occurring.
It is low tech. This is not a Tom Clancy type scenario. It is treatable with antibiotics. It is not contagious. It does not pass from human to human. And the most important thing is, it has been detected early and that is the most important thing we have learned about biological warfare, is early detection.
KING: How concerned should we be as a country, should mothers and parents and children be about this threat?
LARSEN: We are in a war right now, Larry. We are in a serious war with an evil enemy. I think biological attacks are some of the least likely attacks, particularly like I say, the Tom Clancy scenario, we may see some small scale attacks likes this. The most likely thing we are going to see are like car bombs and those sorts of conventional attacks.
Biological warfare is possible. We need to understand that in the 21st century. But it is also still very difficult to do, even if you can manufacture it, you still have to deliver it, and that is a challenge. The good news is we have had some incredible people in this country working on this for several years, like Dr. Scott Lillybridge (ph) right now, who I'm sure has been going 24-7 for quite a few days right now.
And other folks, like Dr. Bob Cadillac (ph), who handles BW programs at the Pentagon. These folks have been working on this for years, and we are much better prepared for this today than we were two years ago, and far better prepared than we just three months ago. KING: Colonel, if forewarned is forearmed, would it be a good idea to have a supply of antibiotics on hand, to have a gas mask? How could it hurt?
LARSEN: Two weeks ago, when I got the question about the gas masks, I said don't waste your time. I have changed my tone a little bit, Larry. I said look, if it will lower your blood pressure, if it will make you sleep better at night, go ahead and buy a gas mask. But understand, you need wear it 24 hours a day! There is no indication about when there is a biological attack. It is not like an explosion or a chemical attack where people are going to fall down in the street.
So, there are some folks during flu season in Japan, they walk around with little gauze masks and I am sure there is some psychological benefit there, maybe some medical benefit. But if you really want to feel better about yourself, and you want to help America, instead of spending money on a gas mask, giving that money to the USO to help take care of out troops out there fighting a war tonight and their families at home.
KING: The Answer Institute, which you are director, is the Institute for Homeland Security. It is a nonprofit public research that you can get on the net at homelandsecurity.org. What does it do?
LARSEN: Well, we have been around for about two years, Larry. We have been very concerned about the national security equation has changed. Small states and some nonstate actors, as we saw on 11th of September can bring enormous damage, enormous threats to the United States. Right now, our national security apparatus is designed on the national security act of 1947. That was a pretty good model for the Cold War. I'm not sure that is what we need for the 21st century.
I'm very encouraged with the developments we had today. Governor Ridge was the right man for this job.
LARSEN: Oh, several reasons. First of all, he is very good friends with President Bush. I know he is going to have the president's ears. If he gets frustrated by bureaucratic roadblocks, he is going to call the president.
Second of all he is a governor. For most of a history of this nation we have looked directly to the federal government for national security. In the 21st century that national security is going to require a partnership of federal, state, county and municipal governments. He is a governor. He knows these sorts of things. This is primarily a state response going on in Florida.
What happened in New York City on the 11th of September was state response. So this is a new environment, we need new structures, new organizational structures here to respond to this security threat.
KING: By the way, are there are elements worse than Anthrax? LARSEN: Sure. We did an exercise called Dark Winter that has received a lot of publicity. That is an exercise we did with Senator Sam Nunn, and former CIA director Jim Woolsey back in June. People hear about that and it has caused some concern in town. They need to understand, that is a very unlikely scenario. The chance of a small pox attack are virtually nil.
We chose that as a model so that we could stress the system between the federal and state government to see how we could learn to respond. The most likely sorts of things are like anthrax, or plague, or tuarevia (ph) . And they are all treatable with antibiotics. The most important thing is early detection. And that is why citizens need be alert. And one thing I'd like to say, a lot of people ask me, what can I do, as a private citizen?
One thing is if I lived in the Florida area tonight around this location, and I had a pet or an animal die in the last couple weeks, I would report that. That is something we learned during the West Nile virus episode is that crows were dying and falling in the street and no one reported them. We learned a good lesson from that: Animals are good sentinels.
Dr. Tracy McNamera at the Bronx Zoo broke the story on West Nile Virus. She is a real hero in that story.
KING: Colonel Larsen will remain with us and we will be joined by Larry Johnson who was with us last night, our terrorism expert and former CIA officer. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. Lots more to come. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together we will confront the threat of terrorism. We'll take strong precautions aimed at preventing terrorist attacks. And prepare to respond effectively if they might come again. We will defend our country. And while we do so, we will not sacrifice the freedoms that make our land unique.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Colonel Randy Larsen remains with us. We are joined now by Larry Johnson, terrorism expert and former CIA officer. Larry, what's your read on this anthrax story in Florida?
LARRY JOHNSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, let's just assume for a moment, Larry, that it is the worst case, that it is terrorism. What do we see? We see that you only have one dead, you have one who has been discovered, and then in the last hour you have had more people die in automobile accidents.
So I think Colonel Larsen was exactly dead on. We need to put it in context because the public health system now is up on it toes and very alert and very responsive. And one of the things we do have in this country despite concerns in the past about health care, is very competent capable people, that when you give them a target to go after, they are very thorough.
KING: What is bin Laden's capabilities in this area, Larry?
JOHNSON: Very limited. He would have to basically get it from someone else, the countries in the region that have it, Iraq probably still has it, Iran, or he would have to buy it from the Russians or the Chinese. And I think really Russians and Chinese have been very remiss to sell it. So it is not the kind of thing that, you know, a devilish Betty Crocker can do by putting on an apron and whipping it up in the garage. I just doesn't happen that way.
KING: Before we take call or two, we will ask Colonel Larsen and then you, greatest vulnerability in terms of homeland defense -- Colonel?
LARSEN: Oh, I think the greatest vulnerability is the traditional terrorist attack, using car bombs, truck bombs, suicide bomber with dynamite around him. That is why folks need to be very alert right now. I tell people, don't be panicky, don't be overly nervous, but be alert like we used to teach our troops in Vietnam. Stay alert, stay alive.
If you are in an airport terminal or a shopping mall you see a somebody set down a briefcase and quickly walk away grab a security officer, grab a police officer. Stay alert.
KING: Would you agree, Larry?
JOHNSON: I would take a slightly different tact. I think our biggest threat comes -- we've got so many different agencies and organizations of well meaning people, but the way to share the information between them sometimes gets bogged down in bureaucracy. I think once we can start breaking those walls down, people are going to feel a little more certain and confident that the government -- look, the government is not sitting here right now like a sleepy Maytag repairman.
They are out there. They are alert and we need to harness all of those capabilities together, because from the first responders up through the federal level, you've got a lot of very good hardworking, well intentioned folks.
KING: Let's take a call. Saint Augustine, Florida, hello.
CALLER: My question was, we heard these anthrax spores were found in a newspaper printing office in Florida. What are odds that these kind of spores could now be being printed along with our issue of "The National Inquirer," and distributed?
KING: Colonel Larsen, could someone tomorrow buy a paper and pick up anthrax?
LARSEN: No that is not a problem. The Army has done a tremendous amount of research on what he is talking about. There is a technical term called secondary aerosolization. And it is just not a highly likely thing. The simple forms of anthrax which we would expect an organization like Osama bin Laden to have would be a liquid slurry which is very difficult to dispense.
It is like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tried and failed, frankly. And they had a billion dollars or whatever. Ok, a dry powder, which is something you expect to maybe get some from a former Soviet program or whatever, but that is still can't be put into newspapers or like that. It has to be sprayed in the air and you breathe it in.
KING: Prior Lake, Minnesota, hello -- hello?
KING: Go ahead. Turn your TV down and go.
CALLER: OK, I had a question regarding the crop duster.
CALLER: The crop dusters, when they fly, if these guys were going to take the crop dusters, what do you think they would have put in there?
JOHNSON: I would just be -- it would it be just a wild guess. I would go more for a chemical than a biological agent. Chlorine is more readily accessible and can be just as damaging as a chemical agent, but I think people need -- it is understandable that you fear the unknown, and it is natural.
But, we need to take big deep breath a step back, because the federal government, and state and local governments are paying attention to this now and we don't have to worry so much in a heightened state of vigilance. I'm concerned when 10 months and a year and a half from now when nothing is happening and we say, no threats, let's forget about it. Then we have to worry.
LARSEN: I agree with that, Larry.
KING: Do you? good. Well said. St. Catherines, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Hello there. I'm just wondering, the Taliban are known for their illicit drug trade and the government regulating. I am just wondering whether they can put biological weapons in the drug trade for people to inhale and use.
LARSEN: I don't think that is a very likely scenario at all about putting it in the drug trade. I haven't heard of that, haven't thought about a way you would do that to have an effective delivery system.
KING: Larry, are we overblowing this? Is the media giving it too much attention?
JOHNSON: Well, I think -- listen, if you can identify, there has been one person that has died from anthrax. I would like to know the number of people that have died from asthma attacks and heart attacks brought on by the media reports. Candidly, I being it is important that the media report it and report it accurately and as you are doing tonight, you are having a very balanced discussion hearing from a lot of voices.
But we shouldn't make people think that it is the boogyman that is going to jump up and get them. There are enough other things in the world be afraid about without going overboard.
KING: Tifton, Georgia, Hello.
CALLER: Larry, my question is how long will the spores live and can they be removed from building?
LARSEN: That is one of the problems. When the British tested anthrax weapons back in 1942, it took them about 40 years to clean up that island called Gruenard (ph), off the coast of Scotland. That is why anthrax is considered one of the most biological weapons mother nature produced because that is the one that is very durable.
KING: Colonel Larsen and Larry Johnson, thank you very much. We will call on both of you again. Very informative portion. As we go to break, before we tonight meet Senator Richard Shelby and Congresswoman Jane Harmon, still to come, Walter Cronkite and Bob Woodward, here is a portion of what Tom Ridge had to say today at his swearing in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR, HOMELAND SECURITY: There may be in may be gaps in the system. The job of the office of homeland security will be to identify those gaps and work to close them. The size and scope of this challenge are immense. The president's executive order states that we must detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks. An extraordinary mission. But we will carry it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome two distinguished members of the Congress joining us: Senator Richard Shelby is a Republican of Alabama and is vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee and Congresswoman Jane Harman Democrat of California, a member of the Select Intelligence Committee and a ranking member of the subcommittee on terrorism, and homeland security.
Senator Shelby, are you concerned about this anthrax thing?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), VICE CHAIRMAN, SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Absolutely. I think we should leave no stone unturned until we get to the bottom of this. I believe between the FBI and the Center for Disease Control, they can do it. And the sooner the better, because it will make a lot of people in America probably get to the point of panic and we don't want to do this.
But we need to find out where it came from and what the solution is to it now.
KING: Congresswoman, how do you balance that fear with trying to live ordinary lives?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There is no option, Larry. We are alive, and if we hide under our beds we become what the terrorists would hope to make us, which is, we end our style of life as we know it. And I am against that.
Let me just say about this attack, though. There could be another one tomorrow, there could be something else on Thursday. This may be the beginning of a second wave of attacks, and rather than careen from one attack to the next, I think it is imperative that we give Governor Ridge, real authority starting tomorrow, if we can pass a law tomorrow, but certainly this week, so that he can force all of the agencies of the federal government, and I mean force, to comply with a national strategy plan that he needs to develop as quickly as possible, so that we understand, we Americans understand where our real threats are, how we are going to respond, how we are going to preempt, protect, et cetera, et cetera, and I don't think we are getting there.
SHELBY: I believe what Congresswoman Harman is talking about makes a lot of sense. I believe myself that some of us need to talk to Tom Ridge, Governor Ridge, and let him find out what he needs and we should give him the tools to do the job. I believe myself that he is going to need statutory authority. He is going to have to have a lot more power than he can get by an executive order.
KING: Are you concerned, both of you, about the assessment of whether we are ready or not, whether the United States is ready for biological warfare -- Jane?
HARMAN: Well, I think some parts of our country are ready. I come from Los Angeles County as you know, Larry and we have a very good terrorist early warning group there and we have substantial public health capacity and a very good responder network that can identify these kinds of threats.
Is the whole country ready yet? I don't think so. Should we be doing things like perhaps putting sensor in new buildings? That's the recommendation of Judith Miller in her new book "Germs" -- maybe we should. But again, consistent with a new threat assessment -- the one we have is four years old -- and a strategy that builds off that threat assessment so that we are spending our dollars wisely so that every agency of government is on the same page.
KING: How prepared are we? SHELBY: I don't think we are that prepared, but we can get better prepared. We have, for example, what we call the "First Responders Program," where we are training people to deal with -- under the Justice Department auspices -- to deal with chemical and biological warfare. But we haven't done enough. As a matter of fact, we were able to double the budget this year. And I think we ought to look at it even for more, because now we realize, finally, that the threat of chemical and biological warfare is really real.
KING: Where is all the money coming from?
HARMAN: Congress is spending a lot of money these days, Larry, as you've noticed. We've got $40 billion as a response to the horror of New York and the Pentagon, and a lot of that money could go for perhaps to Alabama where that training facility is that Senator Shelby mentioned. But it also needs to go into breakthrough drugs, into ways to recognize new chemical and biological agents, into new technologies. I'm for spending at least a billion or more dollars additional on some of these issues.
SHELBY: Larry, what we have to do is do what we have got to do now to prepare and also to prepare the American people, and prepare our people everywhere to deal with any threats that we have. This is a different type of war. Is not going to be cheap. It is not going to be short. But it is one we have to win.
KING: Knowing about red tape, Senator Shelby, do you think Ridge can put all these things together? Can information clear easily?
SHELBY: That is going to be a problem, Larry. You raise something very central. I think we've got to knock down a lot of the regulations, perhaps some of the laws dealing with stove-piping information. The Congresswoman and I have both served on the intelligence committees. We know and we have seen this and seen the impediments. Governor Ridge is a very able man. He is -- I served in the House with him. I know him. He had a great career as a Governor. He has got an awesome responsibility. What we should do is give him the tools, whatever it takes, for homeland defense.
HARMAN: Let me add to that, Larry. I worked in a White House. I worked in The Carter White House. I understand the turf battles that are endemic to the place. Governor Ridge said today in his press conference "the only turf we should be worried about protecting is the turf we stand on." Lofty ideal. Won't happen. He needs tools now, because all the other Cabinet secretaries who have been in place for nine months are protecting their turf this evening. Tomorrow when he shows up for work, he may have less turf than he had today.
KING: The president expressed concern over Congressional leaks. Senator Shelby, what do you make of that? That means people in your bailiwick and on the other side of the lips there in Washington are spreading rumors or giving information out.
SHELBY: Well, we have had a problem with leaks. I have been one to push legislation, as you know, to try to come up with some other criminal penalty to tighten laws on leaks. have people killed. They destroy programs. And I believe that they need to tighten up, and we need to do something about people who really leak, because they are going to have our people killed.
KING: Versailles, Kentucky. I'm sorry -- Versailles, Kentucky. Hello.
Caller: Hi. I'm not so afraid what I have been informed of. But what I am afraid of is what I have not been informed of, hearing possibly that the World Trade Center -- that we knew that there was going to be a terroristic threat amongst that United States. And had the people at the World Trade Center known that, they would have not told them it was safe to go back to work. They would have said, "evacuate the building" had they known that there had been this possible threat made against the United States.
KING: The question is, should we have known, Senator Shelby?
SHELBY: Well, we didn't know. And if we did know and if we didn't heed the warnings, then we've got problems. But we have had too many intelligence failures. The last one was the big one, but we have had some. I have talked about it on this show. I don't believe we can stand another one.
HARMAN: We have also had some intelligence successes, Larry. The millennium threat didn't materialize. I'm not excusing any failures that occurred on September 11th, but it is a tough line of work, the hardest target there is.
KING: OK. Senator, do you -- by were a the way, do you both of you -- do you have a gas mask, Senator Shelby?
SHELBY: I don't have a gas mask. I believe that everything is going to be all right at end of the day, if we stay alert. I might be wrong. But I'm not going panic. I'm going to fly. I'm going to go to work. And I'm going to go to the stores and I'm going to go to wherever I need to go. Because otherwise, if we hunker down and we hide, the terrorists win.
HARMAN: You bet.
KING: What do you make of this the feds asking Hollywood for terrorist scenarios, Congresswoman? At the behest of the Army, an ad hoc group of top Hollywood filmmakers and writers convened at the University of Southern California to brainstorm about possible antiterrorist schemes. Is that a little science fiction or a good idea?
HARMAN: I think it's a good idea. These are folks who think about this all the time. Everyone invokes Tom Clancy. He thought of a lot of this before others of us did. But again, I think we need a national strategy. We can't ad hoc this anymore. We're going to careen from one threat to another threat. And the critical thing is that Governor Ridge be given power this week to reject agency budgets inconsistent with a national strategy and he finally compels this government to be integrated and coordinated, in the way that it prevents deals with terrorist threats and attacks. KING: We'll be right back.
SHELBY: Larry, this is...
KING: Hold on one second. We'll be right back. Let's take this quick break. Don't go away.
KING: Before we talk with Bob Woodward, Senator Shelby, are you telling the public, don't -- be wary, but don't be too wary?
SHELBY: That would be good, Larry. Be alert. Be aware of possible attacks. But don't panic and don't hide. If we do this, we can rebuild our confidence. We will rebuild America and we can win this war.
KING: Congresswoman, are you saying the same thing?
HARMAN: I'm saying the same thing. And I'm also saying to all the kids out there, your parents are concerned for you. But we will assure you that you have the opportunities in your life that we had in ours, and this will be a safer country once we get this threat assessment and national strategy in place, and people are aware of what we're planning to do.
KING: Thank you, Senator Richard Shelby, Congresswoman Jane Harman. Joining us now from Washington my friend Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist, best-selling author, assistant managing editor of the "Washington Post." Where are we now? There's stories seem to be breaking every day. You have broken quite a few in this. We are under -- we're attacking, we've got anthrax -- how do we centralize this, Robert?
ROBERT WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST:" Well, I think there are a couple -- at least there is one known that's comforting in all of this. Going back 10 years, when the first Bush was president, during the gulf war, I wrote a book about that, and went and looked, at all of the public statements, then-President Bush made about what he was doing in the buildup to that war and during that war.
And it turned out, even though people thought a lot of it was just rhetoric, he was saying what he was doing. I have found in the first month of the new President Bush, if you look and listen to what he says, he is being quite candid, based on the information we have. He said this is going to be a long war, it is sustained, it is going to -- we are going to keep it going, it is going to have many parts, and so I -- I think in a way, the first guide on this -- oddly enough -- is what the president is saying.
KING: You have a cowritten story on the front page today of the "Washington Post" that intelligence officials are warning Congress there is a 100 percent chance of retaliation to this military action.
WOODWARD: That was a couple days ago, and that is what some of the officials said in answer to a question. I think the position of the intelligence community is that there is a very high probability that there will be some sort of retaliation, something will happen. The problem in all of this -- I don't know that you watched and read the translation of what Bin Laden said after the attacks.
KING: I did.
WOODWARD: The more I read that, the more I'm confused, quite frankly. There is a lot.
WOODWARD: Because what are his goals? What exactly does he want? Is it that he wants the United States not to support Israel? He wants the United States out of Saudi Arabia because somehow the infidels are contaminating the holy sites at Mecca and Medina? Is that what it is about? I'm not sure. Does he want to destroy the United States? Does want to convert the whole world to Islam? What are his capabilities?
As we know, there are some of these Bin Laden Al-Qaeda cells in the United States. Are they sleeper cells, like those that were used in the September 11 attacks? We just don't know. And so the -- the first thing that has got to be done -- and I think this is kind of the uncomforting unknown -- what is the other side? What do they really want? What could they do? And I think we have very little information on that that is really good.
KING: What about, Bob -- what does journalist do? The president is angry about leaks from classified briefings so he's limited the number of Congresspeople who will get those briefs. When you get a leak how do you measure what I should print or not?
WOODWARD: Whether it informs people, if it is going to get somebody killed, if it is going to disclose intelligence sources, we don't print it. There was an incident where we had something in a story that I had picked up, and one of the senior officials in the government called the managing editor at the "Post," Steve Collins, and said, "I'm going to make a national security argument that you not print this." He gave the reasons, everyone agreed, and it was not published.
I think in a time of war, that is the norm if not the absolute rule for most journalists.
KING: Let's take call for Bob Woodward. South Plains, New Jersey. Hello.
Caller: Hi. I have a real problem with actually the media reporting on Osama Bin Laden, playing his cool speeches to America, and possibly giving hints of further destruction from his counterparts here in America.
KING: What is the problem you have with it?
KING: What is the problem you have with it?
caller: I think that we are playing into his hands, I don't think that a man like this should be given air time. I think basically maybe the media could report that he made a tape, and he is happy that he destroyed Americans, and that is about it. But giving him all this airtime seems to be honoring him.
WOODWARD: It is -- a number of historians would point out that we should have read Hitler's "Mein Kampf" much more carefully, because then you'd find out what he is up to and what the philosophy is behind it and how far he was willing to go to achieve his ends. And the idea that somehow by giving -- and I'm sorry I smiled at that -- but giving Bin Laden air time. I mean, he is not somebody who is running for public office. We need to understand him. And I kept reading that statement, that translation of it, going over it again and again, looking at the tape, because quite frankly I think there is much we don't comprehend in all of this.
KING: Springville, Utah. Hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Hello? Yes, Mr. King. How are you?
KING: Fine. What's the question?
CALLER: The question is, I would like to know what the situation is her,e that we are going into this extreme terrorist move, to send all of 50,000 soldiers into a strange world that should have been cleaned up in the Iraqi part back in '91.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: Papa George.
KING: What's the question?
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: The question is, I would like to know why that wasn't done.
KING: Oh, we're going back to that. Why wasn't that done?
WOODWARD: Well, in the Gulf War it was a U.N. operation and the U.N. resolution simply said that we get the Iraqis out of Kuwait and the mission is accomplished. The mission was not to destroy Saddam Hussein. He had invaded Kuwait. There is much debate about it. There are a lot of people saying, "Gee, they wish the first President Bush had done more." But given the limitations under the U.N. resolution, they achieved what they set out to do. And to somehow extend it and say, "This is the dangerous person. We are going to go and stomp him out." A lot of people in the U.N. would not have supported that at the time.
KING: What do you make of the anthrax story, Bob?
WOODWARD: I can't tell yet. It is -- as somebody said, if it was some sort of terrorist attack on the scale of what happened September 11th, it would have spread much more. It would not have been just directed at one building and a few people. And that now appears to be the case. But again, you never can tell. You have to follow every lead in this. What has happened to the world we live in, the threshold for dealing with the inconceivable -- the truly inconceivable -- has been extended, and so anything is possible and you have to look real hard.
KING: How would you describe yourself? Are you, Bob Woodward, very worried?
WOODWARD: Yes. Because you can lay out a scenario. If you make the most pessimistic interpretation of what these people want to do, they are going to sequence a series of other terrorist attacks that probably will take different forms, have different delivery mechanisms, to bring about some form of chaos in this country. Clearly -- and this is the horror of September 11 -- they have capacity to do that.
They know how to leverage the freedoms in this country against us. You have to be concerned about whether there are groups of people sitting around motels watching football games, who would program themselves for something on a given date. You know, it is totally a different environment. And so instead of being frightened or fearful, I think you have to be very creative and imaginative and try to figure it out. It is the toughest case. I have looked back at Watergate, and say, "In a sense, that was very easy compared to this." This is a stumper.
KING: Thanks, Bob. We will be calling on you again. Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author of the "Washington Post." When we come back we are spending the remaining moments with the dean of all of this. Maybe some comfort and some opinions on how we are handling it. Walter Cronkite is next. Don't go away.
KING: Joining us from New York, the dean of American broadcast journalists, Walter Cronkite. Thank you so much, Walter. What is the -- what is your read as to how well the media should or should not handle this anthrax story?
WALTER CRONKITE, JOURNALIST: Well, I think so far it is handling it as well as we can handle it with the knowledge we have and the information we are getting. That is always the question in these matters: do we get enough information that we can do the editorial job of passing on that which the public needs to know. I think so far that we are getting that information.
KING: You were in Italy when this occurred?
CRONKITE: I'm afraid I was. I was in Florence the day that the September 11, and we got back here as fast as we could. But that was -- the first plane out was the following Sunday.
KING: What was it like for you come back to New York?
CRONKITE: Well, we came back, and we had a personal experience. We have an apartment down by the United Nations that overlooks the East River and looks downtown. You normally could barely see a corner of the World Trade buildings down there. When we came back just could see a great cloud of smoke and in the evening the red glow of fires still burning. But we opened our windows. The apartment had been closed for a day. We had to shut them instantly, the fumes were so bad. And we're probably three miles north of the World Trade Center.
CRONKITE: It was not pleasant.
KING: You've seen many presidents in times of crisis. What's your assessment of President Bush?
CRONKITE: I think he has been handling this situation extremely well. I think he is surprising those who did not think much of his presidency in the first place, but I think he is putting a lot of the fears about his leadership to rest. Seems to be doing quite a good job of it.
KING: How about the public's reaction to all of this? I mean, you go back -- you remember Pearl Harbor.
CRONKITE: Well, of course, it's much more severe than Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor, of course, was great shock to us, but it immediately plunged us into World War II, where we rather expected that some day we would be going. This was the catalyst that did it.
We were shocked at the loss of our ships, and of course, at the loss of the great number of our military people, but they were military people., It was an organized attack by a foreign government. This thing is quite different from that. The great toll of lives taken in the civilian population, innocent people who had no thought, no concept of anything like this was about to occur, and then the -- of course the bravery of the firemen and police and the rescue workers. It has been a great, of course, national event that has ripped all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our thinking.
KING: Walter, you have been a strong opponent all your broadcast life of censorship. Is some censorship necessary now?
CRONKITE: Yes. Very definitely, Larry. The censorship is necessary in covering the military. We should definitely be permitted to cover the military, with even the smallest of units. They can still take care of a reporter and a cameraman, maybe more depending on the size of the unit. But of course, anything that they report, anything they write, anything they put in their cameras in the way of tape, has got to be held for military censorship.
The importance of their being there is that American people have the right to know -- they have the duty to know -- what their boys and girls are doing in their name, and it must be recorded. It can't be put out immediately without military surveillance, military censorship. But if they are there, they could get that story out eventually. A day later, two days later, a week later, a month later. Even if it's a year later, history will be preserved and we will know how we conducted the war, and with what efficiency we did it. We will know who heroes were, as well as perhaps those who did not do so well.
KING: You think the public has the patience for the long haul here?
CRONKITE: I think we do. I think the American people in their immediate reaction to this terrible tragedy have shown the stuff of which they are made. I do not see any reason why we are not ready for long haul. As everybody is saying, they are expecting some other attacks. That is going to strain our fidelity to the job at hand, but I think we've got it in to us do it.
KING: Do you wish you were reporting now on a daily basis?
CRONKITE: Sure. I miss being on the front lines of every story. This is of course the biggest story of our time.
KING: Walter, are you feeling as well as you look?
CRONKITE: Yeah, I'm still making it.
KING: We love you. Stay around. Thanks, Walter. Always good seeing you.
CRONKITE: Thank you.
KING: Walter Cronkite. Once known as the most trusted man in America. The former anchor of "The CBS Evening News." We will come back, tell you about tomorrow night and talk with Aaron Brown. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, among many guests, Senators John Warner and Bob Graham. We turn the proceedings over to Aaron Brown now, who's in Atlanta.
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